When it comes to looking after our customers, quite often there’s a gap - a huge gap - between theory and practice. There are books about customer relations; there are videos about customer relations; there are Gurus (mostly self-appointed) about customer relations. None of them actually have to deliver customer relations. That chore is left to what was known in the last two World Wars as the PBI, as in “Poor Bloody Infantry” - the foot soldiers, the frontline people, your frontline people. So,what do they make of it all?
You know about Pareto’s Law, yes that one, the one that says 80% of the business comes from 20% of the customers? Well, it (almost) applies in this case. More than 80% of frontline staff haven’t yet totally bought into the idea of effective customer relations. The other 20% have discovered a very enriching way of achieving a satisfactory outcome from interactions with customers. In other words, most of the time they succeed! And when they succeed, the customers actually thank them!
This article can’t be about you, can it?
What’s the problem? The first answer is the Directors, the next answer is the Managers “Nonsense” you say. “I’m one of those, and I have explained very earnestly why we must all focus on achieving first class relations with customers”
Listen! If you and your whole organization don’t believe in developing good relations with all of your customers, it won’t happen. The real issue is the environment.
There used to be spittoons in bars. What is a spittoon? It’s a bowl or bucket into which people spit. Oh yes, people used to spit into spittoons. So long as the environment accepted people spitting, there were spittoons. Once that environment changed, the very idea was repulsive. Which gets us back to relations with customers. So long as the environment in your organization is tolerant of taking a patronising, competing or negative attitude to customers, some people will do just that.
In discussing customer relations, we are not just discussing the work of a Customer Service Department. We need to look at the whole company-wide approach to customers - that's all of us, not one of us or a few of us!
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